Many animal lovers will agree that one of the cutest things in life is seeing animals of different species get along well.
That brings me to the story of Amy and Rocky.
Amy is a Bulldog while Rocky is a guinea pig and they belong to a good friend of mine. Both Amy and Rocky are the best of friends but Rocky has a strong attraction for the guinea pig’s poop.
I have seen this first hand when I was at my friend’s place.
In between naps, Rocky will be busy searching for tiny poop nuggets to gobble up. Not the healthiest of dog treats.
Is guinea pig poop toxic to dogs?
Let us find out.
What Is A Guinea Pig?
Yes, I know…
It’s pretty obvious that the guinea pigs aren’t pigs. They are also called cavies and these little furry cuties are part of the rodent family that hail from South America.
Guinea pigs go way way back in time, almost 5000 BC ago. They were said to be domesticated by tribes during that era for food.
These rodents are omnivores which means that their main diet is all about eating greens such as grass, hay, fruits, etc.
Here’s a rather interesting fact about guinea pigs.
They are known to eat their own poop to supplement their diet. This ‘eat my own poop’ behavior is called coprophagy.
Can My Dog Get Sick From Eating Guinea Pig Poop?
Dogs can get sick from eating guinea pig feces as the poop can contain bacteria and viruses that can be transmitted between species.
Eating poop from any living thing and in any form is definitely something that should be encouraged.
It doesn’t mean that a veggie-eating animal has poop that is largely pristine.
Another thing that you need to be aware of is that even though your dog might not get directly affected by the contaminated feces, your dog can still pass it on to you.
You don’t get the nasty stuff from eating dog poop (I sure hope not) but from your dog’s saliva. If your dog licks your face or broken skin, there’s a chance of getting infected.
This was how I got pink eye from my dog a couple of weeks ago when he licked my face.
Here are some health issues that can affect your dog when it eats guinea pig poop.
Salmonellosis is caused by the bacteria salmonella which can be found in infected guinea pig’s poop.
Animals can get infected by the bacteria by eating contaminated food, the environment or even from their mothers while they are still in the womb.
The CDC once investigated a salmonella outbreak and traced the source back to a pet guinea pig.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include:
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
It is possible that the guinea pig is carrying this bacteria but shows no adverse reactions at all. But your dog can easily contract salmonellosis if it ate guinea pig poop that has been contaminated.
2. Chlamydia Caviae
Chlamydia Caviae is a bacteria that is found to give pink eye to guinea pigs. But it can cause more serious symptoms such as pneumonia in humans with weaker immune systems.
Scientists have also found this bacteria in other animals like dogs, horses and rabbits.
Chlamydia caviae can be transmitted via direct contact with a contaminated guinea pig or even from breathing in the bacteria from the dried poop.
Symptoms of chlamydia in dogs can vary from organ infections and chronic inflammations.
Worms are a rare occurrence in guinea pigs but it can happen and make them a carrier for tapeworms and roundworms.
There are some guinea pip owners that allow their guinea pigs to graze on the grass in their garden. But if the grass has been soiled by the fecal matter of other animals that have these worms, it can get transmitted to the guinea pig.
Even if the poop has been cleared from the grass, the eggs from these worms can still survive on the grass and not be visible to the naked eye.
When dogs eat guinea pig poop that contains these eggs, they can be passed on to the dog and start to grow in the dog’s intestinal tract.
These parasites will start to produce in large numbers and leech off the food in your dog’s digestive tract.
Symptoms of intestinal parasites include:
- White specks in dog poop
- Blood or mucus in stool
- Lack of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
Worms in puppies can be very dangerous as they can absorb a lot of the nutrients that the puppy need. When this happens, the poor dog can suffer from fading puppy syndrome.
4. Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV)
LCMV is an infectious disease that is found in and transmitted by rodents such as guinea pigs. This virus can cause meningitis and hind leg paralysis in guinea pigs that have this virus.
LCMV can be transmitted via contaminated bodily fluids and feces of the guinea pig.
Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is considered to be a zoonotic disease as it can also be passed on to humans.
- Death (very serious cases)
Although no illnesses have been found to be associated with LCMV in dogs, it is still better to play it safe especially if your dog is old, a puppy or has a poor immune system.
Be careful if you have rats as pets at home as eating rat poop can be dangerous for your dog too.
How To Prevent My Dog From Eating Guinea Pig Poo?
Even healthy guinea pigs can transmit diseases to our dogs when they eat contaminated poop. Therefore it is important to take this seriously and try to prevent your poop-eating dog from doing so.
Keep Your Guinea Pig In An Enclosure
If you have a guinea pig at home, try placing it in a big enough enclosure so that there’s ample space for your guinea pig to move about and rest.
This also helps to contain the poop so that your curious dog won’t be able to get to it.
Feel free to let your guinea pig roam freely when you are around to supervise but make sure to pick up all the poop when it’s time to go back to the enclosure.
The guinea pig can poop a lot, like really a lot.
We are talking 50-100 pellets of poop per day.
Keep your Guinea Pig Healthy
Make it a point to give your guinea pig regular health checks. Many healthy guinea pigs can remain asymptomatic even when infected with a bacteria or virus.
Take your pet to the vet immediately if you suspect that it is unwell.
These preventive measures can lower the risk of any disease to your dog if it happens to eat guinea pig poop.
Don’t Feed Wild Grass
It might seem like a good idea to feed grass in your garden or in the wild to your guinea pig as it looks healthier.
But there’s no telling how contaminated these greens are even when they look clean.
If you do wish to feed your pet something more ‘organic’, try growing your own grass indoors or behind a locked door where there’s no risk of contamination from other animals.
How Do I Clean My Dog’s Mouth After Eating Poop?
Don’t just let your dog start licking you or other objects in your home if it has just eaten guinea pig poop. There’s always a risk of transmission of zoonotic diseases.
Take some saline solution (mixing some salt with warm water) and wipe your dog’s mouth a couple of times.
You can also brush your dog’s teeth to really make the mouth area clean. But please do not use normal human toothpaste as it contains artificial sweeteners which are very toxic to dogs.
Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?
Most healthy dogs with a robust immune system should be able to hold off any infections from eating guinea pig poop.
But if your dog starts showing signs of illness or there’s a noticeable change in its behavior, it would be best to being your dog to the vet for a physical examination.
There’s no way of telling if your dog has gotten something from the poop unless it goes through some tests.
The vet will have to prescribe some antibiotics or dewormers depending on the diagnosis.